(Chretien De Troyes)
I really can't say enough in praise of this wonderful book. Each poem is translated into prose in a lively and vivid style. The dialogue is crisp and natural and the action non-stop. But Chretien's intentions go even deeper than merely telling cracking yarns. Each are sensitive and intelligent explorations of human nature. Marital love is ever an important theme in Chretien. In Erec and Enide, the hero neglects his knightly reputation in order to devote himself to his new bride, and in Yvain the hero does the opposite and neglects his bride for valour. Both must set off on a series of adventures that culminate in them seeing the error of their ways and setting matters right. Lancelot is an excellent story. Nowhere does Chretien condemn the adulterous relationship between Lancelot and Guineverere, despite negative references elsewhere to the adulterous love between Tristan and Iseult. In Kibler's introduction he suggests that the theme may have been suggested by Chretien's patroness. Perhaps, then, Chretien was anxious not to offend the French Court. At any rate, he didn't finish the romance and gave it to someone else to do (this ending is included in this book). In Perceval Chretien masterfully captures the naivete of the young hero.He delivers the most mysterious, powerful and influential Arthurian story of all. Here we see the holy grail, the bleeding lance and the castle of maidens, all of which have become essential ingredients in Arthurian lore. It's unfinished state presented an irresistible challenge to later poets, some of whom tried to finish it off. Otherswent back to the beginning and offeredalternative versions. The only story that sometimes gets a little static is Cliges, where the characters occasionally go off into protracted musings on the nature of love. But once you've got past these bits, which to be fair are intelligent insights, it's still a fine read. All in all, I hugely recommend this book. And if it doesn't want to make you start exploring Mallory, Von Eschenbach, and the rest, you've got no romance in your soul!